I gathered the courage to call the man who sat in the car with my brother while they waited for the ambulance to arrive. The man was a fireman, and he was off duty, painting a house to earn extra money, when he saw the accident.
He jumped off of the ladder and rushed over to the car. He crawled inside the car and knocked out the windshield, because the driver was panicking and felt claustrophobic. The driver was my brother, Chris, and he died in the hospital about thirty minutes later from internal injuries. But while he waited for the ambulance, scared and struggling to breath, the fireman sat by him and comforted him. We couldn’t be there, but he could, and it means everything to me that Chris wasn’t alone during the last minutes of his life.
In honor of this, my mother takes a full Thanksgiving dinner to the local fire department each year to thank these courageous and thoughtful people. It took me over ten years to be able to speak to the man who knew the details of my brother’s final moments. I wasn’t ready to know for a long time, but I could thank him right away in a letter, and our family found a way to thank his profession for all of the sons and brothers they’ve saved, protected, and even mourned. It might not be perfect, but it makes us feel better. The firemen don’t mind a day off from cooking, either.
You could write a letter, donate your time or your expertise, help another family get through the holidays, post your coping ideas on a blog, do something crazy or silly, work on a project together, take a vacation, go for a goal you’ve been denying, ask friends to help you create a memory book… Find what works for you, and don’t apologize for it. You deserve to do something that makes you feel better.Tags: grief, hope